Nigeria’s military said Tuesday that it has arrested a businessman suspected to be the head of a Boko Haram intelligence cell linked to the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls in April.
Babuji Ya’ari, who was arrested during a raid conducted Monday night on a Boko Haram unit, reportedly assisted the Islamist militant group to plan several attacks. Two female suspects were also arrested in the raid. One of them is accused of coordinating funds to other “operatives on the payroll of the group,” while another is described as someone “who doubles as an armourer and a spy for the terrorists group,” media reports said, citing a military statement.
“Babuji has been coordinating several deadly attacks in Maiduguri since 2011, including the daring attacks on Customs and military locations as well as the planting of IEDs in several locations in the town,” military spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, reportedly said, in the statement.
The news of Ya'ari's arrest was followed by an explosion at a market in the northeastern city of Maiduguri that has reportedly killed at least eight people. The attack has been blamed on Boko Haram, which is based in the northeastern part of the country and has killed thousands since it came together in 2009.
Currently, more than 200 schoolgirls abducted in mid-April are still missing, while about 53 girls escaped their captors shortly after being kidnapped. The mass abduction of the girls triggered global campaigns to bring them back, while security experts from the U.S., UK, France and Israel have been assisting Nigerian authorities in the search mission.
Boko Haram, which allegedly seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, has been blamed for several attacks in the region, including an assault on Sunday on villages near Chibok that claimed the lives of dozens of people.